The Cave review: Seven spelunkers, none decent
Jan 29th 2013 8:00 AM EST
The Cave is an adventure game, obviously. It's littered with puzzles and pieces of junk destined to become the only objects in the world worth having. The cave itself is a sentient, subterranean narrator, enveloping seven different explorers in a patchwork of dream-like environments that not only pertain to them, but contain the kind of contorted contexts in which a femur and a parrot are essential parts of progress.
Those are all signs of the classic adventure, tinged with the incongruous vending machines, gift shops and eternally stranded island hermits you expect from a Ron Gilbert game. But there's something else inside The Cave, a familiar cynicism and cleverness that gradually emerges as each spelunker hits rock bottom. These people ? even the monk and the chivalrous knight ? are egotistical, unpleasant kleptomaniacs, and you're one of them.
View Gallery:The Cave (9/4/12)
That honest appraisal of the adventurer (and the adventure gamer) elevates The Cave above its structural problems, and makes for an observation far wittier and funnier than anything said by the narrator himself. There is truly unique pleasure in seeing the dark, reprehensible turns each puzzle takes, and knowing that an alternate solution exists in there somewhere. Ron Gilbert assures me there are unselfish ways toward success, though I prefer the evil ones.
The alternate solutions are integral to the game's philosophy ? the choice must exist, or the statement is rendered inert. Then again, people bettering themselves isn't nearly as funny as people bettering themselves by battering others. This is an entire genre where lying, cheating, misdirection and arbitrary theft are easy stepping stones en route to the mythical solution. When you're in puzzle solving mode, everyone is a tool for the ol' inventory.